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Simon Griffiths looks at how to make the most of your first long distance swimming experience with the BLDSA

The BLDSA started out as a voluntary organisation in 1956 to promote long distance open water swimming – and it has stuck to this formula for 60 years, organising some of the most iconic and long-standing events on the swimming calendar. Many of its events are (and are meant to be) challenging. Mostly, wetsuits are not allowed so not only do you have to swim a long way, you also have to cope with the water conditions.

At the same time, the BLDSA takes the safety of its swimmers very seriously and therefore, for a number of its events, insists that each person in the water is accompanied by a support kayak or rowing boat. The supporter’s job is hugely important. Not only do they have to guide, encourage and feed the person in the water, they also have to protect the swimmer from other water users and possibly make the difficult decision to end the swim if the person in the water is struggling.

Coniston – start
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About Outdoor Swimmer

As spring finally arrives, it is time to start planning your summer swims. We have features on wild swimming in Spain and Florida and full event listings for races in the UK and around the world. Plus, we report from Russia and the UK on the final flurry of the season’s cold water swimming competitions. In this issue’s performance zone, as well as all the usual training and nutrition advice, we teach you how to master easy butterfly. This issue we celebrate a true pioneer of the open water: Mercedes Gleitze, the first British woman to swim the English Channel, was an independent working class woman who promoted open water swimming to a new audience.
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